a friend of mine recommended i write a post about having grace for ourselves. as he noted in the email, it is something i tend to preach to others, and since he had “never actually heard of grace outside of praying before you eat supper,” i decided to take his request and spend some time writing on the subject.
my journey into embracing a more gracious lifestyle for myself came just over a year ago, on New Year’s Day 2011. i had one of those life-crisis type NYE where i felt like no one loved me and i was never going to get married, blah blah blah. i responded by drinking half a bottle of vodka and passing out in the bathroom.
the next day, still half-dazed, i made my way to a hot yoga class. i spent most of the hour and a half in child’s pose, crying. i got home, showered and determined to spend the rest of the day in bed. it was there a phrase came to me that shed great light on my self-destructive behavior and set me on a different path:
“there is no refuge in me.”
i began to realize that when i was going through some unexplicable pain or grief beyond my control, i would try to self-medicate by smoking, drinking, etc. but these are all actually self-destructive measures, inflicting even greater pain on already exposed wounds. i learned to hold myself that day. to actually, physically hold myself, wrapping my arms around myself and giving comfort i desperately needed.
my friend is right in saying that i preach “self grace.” it is only because i have found such a need for it in myself. as i told him, if we are not the first to respond to our wounds with tenderness, who will?
tangibly, this can manifest itself in many different ways, which are unique to each person. i will share my methods, but it is important to pay attention to yourself and what you need. it may be necessary to first identify what self-destructing methods you’re currently using to “comfort,” then you can begin to replace those with more positive, grace-filled acts.
these are just a few i’ve discovered that allow me to care for myself:
when i was a kid, my aunt would help us build elaborate forts in the living room with blankets and the dining room chairs. we would also build in the tv and watch movies. i loved how cozy it felt in there, like a protect world that where i could be myself. just recently i realized how necessary it can be to create that sacred space when i’m in the midst of chaos. i did that in the fall when trying to cope with a couple different issues. i simply put a blanket over the coffee table and crawled in. once inside, the flood gates opened and i was able to fully grieve.
these have always been a safe place for me. after a long day, i love to just soak in a hot bath.
this is a recent discovery but the yoga mat has definitely become a place to quiet my thoughts, take deep breaths, and care about the movements and processes of my body. i especially appreciate instructors who, at the end of a session, encourage you to thank your body. i find it allows me to acknowledge this wonderfully complex creation, to focus on its beauty, which in turn encourages me to take better care of it.
there are a myriad of other things i’ve done…lounging on friends’ couches for hours or allowing space to eat cookies without counting the cost. i have found that allowing myself to be child-like is very important, as most of my grieving stems from there anyway. the heart of it, always, is to still that critical voice, and begin to learn a new language of respect and love and encouragement.
many people find this approach arrogant or self-indulgent or self-centered, but in truth, we must care for ourselves properly if we are ever to be expected to care for others.